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Propulsive efficiency of a biomorphic pulsed-jet underwater vehicle

Ali A Moslemi, Paul S Krueger
Bioinspiration & Biomimetics 2010, 5 (3): 036003
20710067
The effect of the velocity program and duty cycle (St(L)) on the propulsive efficiency of pulsed-jet propulsion was studied experimentally on a self-propelled, pulsed-jet underwater vehicle, dubbed Robosquid due to the similarity of essential elements of its propulsion system with squid jet propulsion. Robosquid was tested for jet slug length-to-diameter ratios (L/D) in the range 2-6 and St(L) in the range 0.2-0.6 with jet velocity programs commanded to be triangular or trapezoidal. Digital particle image velocimetry was used for measuring the impulse and energy of jet pulses to calculate the pulsed-jet propulsive efficiency and compare it with an equivalent steady jet system. Robosquid's Reynolds number (Re) based on average vehicle velocity and vehicle diameter ranged between 1300 and 2700 for the conditions tested. The results indicated better propulsive efficiency of the trapezoidal velocity program (up to 20% higher) compared to the triangular velocity program. Also, an increase in the ratio of the pulsed-jet propulsive efficiency to the equivalent steady jet propulsive efficiency (eta(P)/eta(P, ss)) was observed as St(L) increased and L/D decreased. For cases of short L/D and high St(L), eta(P)/eta(P, ss) was found to be as high as 1.2, indicating better performance of pulsed jets. This result demonstrates a case where propulsion using essential elements of a biological locomotion system can outperform the traditional mechanical system equivalent in terms of efficiency. It was also found that changes in St(L) had a proportionately larger effect on propulsive efficiency compared to changes in L/D. A simple model is presented to explain the results in terms of the contribution of over-pressure at the nozzle exit plane associated with the formation of vortex rings with each jet pulse.

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